The yoga of selfless service

Karma Yoga

 

Hanuman is a great Karma Yogi -
painting by Pieter Weltevrede
In karma yoga or the yoga of selfless action, the ego is surrendered to the universe at large. To practice karma yoga means to live a life of selfless service for the welfare of the universe, or some part of it. Keeping your own needs to a minimum, you work to serve the needs of other beings. Thus, karma yoga is simple to explain, but not so easy to perform.

A true karma yogi has no possessions to speak of, for instance. In true karma yoga, there should be no personal benefit. If some return is expected for help given, then it is not karma yoga, it is just business as usual, a game of give and take. If possible, we should perform karma yoga without anybody knowing about it, so that the ego derives less gratification from it. As that is often impractical, the main way to keep our ego out of it is to deny any credit for the action or the result of it, to forego doership. There is only one doer, and that is the self; and nobody has any exclusive claim on the self. Body, mind, ego, and intellect are the undoers, tending to limit the naturally divine manifestation of the self. In karma yoga, all we really do is allow the self to express its natural kindness. And even when doing just that much, it happens only because the self and nothing but the self guides us to it, as divine inspiration.

Karma Yoga
& Yoga Teaching
In karma yoga the focus should be on the action, not on the intended result. Suffering exists only in contrast to enjoyment, darkness only as an absence of light, ignorance only as an opportunity for enlightenment. The help itself is quite irrelevant; only the helping matters. The helping helps the karma yogi on his path toward enlightenment; all else is just an ego game. Pure action in karma yoga is offered not only without ego but also entirely without thought.

The best help that anybody can get is teaching. All suffering happens through ignorance, as in truth no one is suffering. Most karma yogis thus combine actions that assure the basic needs of other beings (such as food and shelter) with actions that help those beings grow out of their ignorance. The “you can eat as long as you are willing to hear me preach” stance may too often be a matter of religious persuasion of a much less selfless kind. But in essence, service combined with teaching is a logical form of karma yoga—though of course, the true karma yogi would never withhold food or any other benefit, nor seek to convert another through bribes or any other tactics, subtle or unsubtle. Quite the opposite: the karma yogi lives only to serve. The selfless service given is also a powerful teaching in itself.



About


Leela is the ancient vedic name for the theater of life. Life in all its forms is an illusion behind which we can find the ultimate truth of pure Being. Yet life is also a divine theater, a spiritual game played by us, the actors. Yoga allows us to hold on to the bliss of truth while playing the game. And also this yoga is a game, which we can only take seriously if we do not take ourselves and this game too seriously. That is the meaning of Leela Yoga, nothing more, nothing less. So, Leela Yoga is a vision on yoga and also a name for a simple organisation that allows me to bring this vision into practice... more about Leela Yoga & Peter Marchand

Peter Marchand Facebook page

International Leela Yoga Facebook Group

Belgium : www.leela-yoga.be

Harish Johari students sangha : www.sanatansociety.org

  in sweet memory
of Harish Johari

Quotes


As the destination is the same for all, it is easy to make the error of assuming that the path must be just as universal.

The attachment that happens in the pursuit of happiness is the main source of unhappiness.

Don't think of going somewhere, because this somewhere will come along with you wherever you go, as you are already there.

Yoga requires unity between enjoyment and suffering, between bhoga and yoga, even between attachment and detachment.

How can anyone be "good" without a choice between good and bad?

While the mind creates the illusion of the universe through the senses, the intellect creates the illusion of understanding it.

When our day has been entirely ego-centered, then our meditation will probably have similar poor quality.

When the focus on the self is held strongly enough, the flow of kundalini energy happens on its own, naturally.

Tiptoe inside, don't make a sound, don't scare away that which cannot be found.

Enlightenment is nothing more or less than the final level of the game of life.